The playoff race is heating up on the gridiron and contenders are emerging on the hardwood.
In this edition of the Showstopper, we’ll dish out the latest news and analysis for two big matchups in pro football: Chiefs vs. Raiders and Vikings vs. Chargers.
Plus, uncover the angles for Bulls vs. Warriors in a clash of the two most surprising NBA teams. Will Steph Curry keep Golden State’s winning streak alive?
Chicago Bulls vs. Golden State Warriors
Friday, November 12 | TV: ESPN
Yes, it’s still very early in the season, but right now the Bulls and Warriors are your conference-leading powerhouses. Steph Curry is cooking the competition with 27.4 points per game and the new Bulls star DeMar DeRozan isn’t that far behind with 26 points per contest. Chef Curry is attempting a league-high 13 three-pointers a game and recently dropped 50 points in a win over the Hawks. Golden State’s projected points total for this showdown indicates more buckets are coming. Curry’s usage rate could see a bigger uptick if Draymond Green is forced to miss the game. The Warriors power forward is listed as questionable due to a right thigh contusion.
There’s an interesting disparity between these two offenses, as the Warriors lead the league in three-pointers made per game (15.7) and the Bulls are all the way in dead last (10.0). Golden State should exploit that vast differential, since Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole have not been shy about letting it fly. The Bulls are also going to be vulnerable in the paint because big man Nikola Vucevic will miss several games after testing positive for COVID-19. Tony Bradley will start at center in his absence. Some good news for Chicago is Coby White might return to the rotation soon after the point guard underwent offseason shoulder surgery.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Sunday, November 14 | TV: NBC
Surprise, surprise: The Chiefs are actually trailing the Raiders in the AFC West division. Las Vegas is 3-1 at home this season, with those victories coming against the Ravens, Dolphins and Eagles, but last week’s stinging loss to the Giants was not a pretty offensive performance. Kansas City, meanwhile, has looked markedly better on the defensive end following a very rough stretch. The Chiefs D played more aggressively with blitzes versus Green Bay and could look to do the same against Derek Carr, who no longer has deep threat Henry Ruggs and will have to rely heavily on tight end Darren Waller. In last week’s defeat, Carr averaged just 6.4 yards per pass attempt. The Raiders recently signed wideout DeSean Jackson to fill the void.
The Chiefs have only managed to score 36 points combined over their last three games. However, with the Raiders allowing 340.6 total yards per game, this is still expected to be a high-scoring affair. Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has reportedly looked good at practice and might be activated from the injured reserve in time for this week’s matchup. The Raiders are near the bottom of the league in rush defense, allowing 133.5 yards per game, so Helaire’s return would help K.C.’s chances of a stout offensive showing.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Sunday, November 14 | TV: FOX
The Vikings are in must-win territory on the road after their back-to-back close losses to the Cowboys and Ravens. The Chargers, on the other hand, are tied atop the AFC West as they attempt to take sole possession of the lead. Unfortunately for Minnesota, stud safety Harrison Smith remains on the COVID-19/reserve list and will miss another game. Also, running back Dalvin Cook is facing physical abuse allegations in a lawsuit filed by his ex-girlfriend, but he’s expected to suit up as the league reviews the matter. The Chargers run defense in the worst in the league (161.6 yards per game) so Cook will have plenty of work on tap.
For the most part, the Chargers continue to find themselves in tight battles where quarterback Justin Herbert has to air it out. That may change this Sunday as the Vikings are much weaker against the run, with their opponents racking up 136.6 rushing yards per game. Austin Ekeler has tallied 8 all-purpose touchdowns through 8 games. Minnesota is likely to pressure Herbert in the pocket, which could lead to frequent checkdowns to Ekeler to keep the chains moving.